Maundy through Friday

Fr. Ragan Schriver’s father has been recuperating from a fall for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I tagged along as my wife and four of her fellow choir members visited him in the hospital. They sang “Amazing Grace” because it’s Bob Schriver’s favorite hymn. Then they sang three songs from the previous night’s Holy Thursday service: “Ave Verum,” “How Beautiful” and “Servant Song.” When they asked if the family members wanted to hear anything else, Julia Schriver said, “Yes, number 555!” She knew the hymn number for “Lead Me, Guide Me” just like she was a teenager choosing her favorite song from the jukebox.

In a thank-you text to the singers, Fr. Ragan said that their visit to his dad would make great homily material. I wonder if he’ll mention that one of the male singers had an electronic pitch pipe that seemed to trigger the hospital’s intercom system every time he sounded it.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated on Holy Thursday, is one of my favorite rites. It includes the washing of the feet and concludes with a solemn procession to the altar of repose. At All Saints Church, the main celebrant this year was Fr. John Appiah. He talked about how feet were extremely filthy in Biblical times and how the job of washing people’s feet fell not just to any servant or slave but to the lowliest of them. By washing his apostles’ feet, Jesus turned the custom on its head.

At All Saints, anyone who sits on an aisle will have their feet washed by a priest or deacon. Additionally, twelve parishioners are asked to come to the front and sit on chairs near the altar. My wife and I were among the twelve. Before Mass, Fr. John had approached me in the Narthex and said I would be number ten of the twelve in front. I thought he was randomly choosing people who had arrived early. Later I found out that my wife had been asked to represent the choir. I got a little choked up when I heard Fr. John softly thank each of the twelve parishioners with a specific comment. He thanked Bill Christensen for all his work with the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. He thanked my wife for her singing and he thanked me for “all my voices” and volunteering. I think he was referring to my emcee jobs at the Catholic Charities dinner and Kids Helping Kids Fun Walk as well as at several parish functions.

On Palm Sunday, Fr. John was the celebrant at the 8:15 a.m. Mass when I played the part of the narrator. At the Easter Vigil tonight, my wife will sing a very difficult piece called the Exultet and I will proclaim the first reading, which is the creation story from the book of Genesis.

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